Construction firm fined after trainee sustains multiple fractures falling from ladder…
A Hertfordshire company has been charged with safety breaches after one of their trainees sustained multiple fractures in an eight-metre fall from a roof in North London.
The 22-year-old accident victim broke two vertebrae, an ankle, a wrist and fractured his pelvis and tore ligaments after the accident which occurred on 3 December 2012.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to go ahead with a legal prosecution against the company after their investigators uncovered safety failings that contributed to the accident.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the accident victim was trying to use an extendable roof ladder as he stood at the top of an access ladder that had already been balanced against the side of the house. The HSE investigation revealed that the access leader was not of sufficient length to clear the guttering on the roof and enable workers to step off it in a safe manner.
The accident occurred while the man was struggling with opening the extractable ladder – it pulld him from the access ladder and as he lost his balance, he found he had nothing to grab hold of to prevent his fall. He fell a total of three storeys, a distance of almost eight metres to the ground below.
The construction company was hit with a fine of £30,000 with an additional £5,840 in prosecution costs after they were judged to be guilty in absentia of two separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
HSE Inspector Keith Levart spoke after the hearing, referring to the dangers associated with working at heights:
“It was clear the access ladder had been used unsafely and that the company had failed to plan the work properly, taking into account the specific issues that arose from using that site.
“If used correctly, access and roof ladders can provide safe access to chimneys. However, this one could not clear the guttering, which led to this entirely preventable incident and a trainee worker suffering serious injuries. It is only a matter of good fortune that these injuries were not fatal.
“There is no shortage of advice and information about safe use of ladders. Where necessary, there is ancillary equipment available such as adjustable ladder stays, and straps for securing it to the building.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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